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El Chapo’s son arrested in Guadalajara

June 21, 2012

The son of Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman, the world’s most wanted drug lord, was arrested in a raid on his home in the Guadalajara suburb of Zapopan early Thursday morning.

Jesus Alfredo Guzman Salazar, alias “El Alfredillo” or “El Gordo,” was captured by marines and transported to Mexico City, where he was presented before the press by the federal Attorney General’s Office.

On June 7 the U.S. Treasury added Guzman, 26, to its “black list” of drug suspects, freezing any assests he held in the United States and barring U.S. citizens from doing business with him. He stands accused of drug trafficking in Chicago since 2009 and now faces extradition to stand trial in the United States.

“We congratulate the government of Mexico and the Calderon administration on another victory against the ruthless cartels,” said U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) spokesman Rusty Payne. “This is the first step in bringing another ruthless drug baron to justice.”

Guzman is considered a key member of his father’s Sinaloa Cartel, one of the most powerful criminal gangs in Mexico. Authorities discovered 295,000 pesos in cash, several false identifications, various firearms and four grenades at his home in the Jardines de la Patria neighborhood of Zapopan. Kevin Daniel Beltran Rios, 18, as also detained in the raid.

The arrest came just four days after El Chapo’s nephew Obied Cano Zepeda was shot dead at his home in Culiacan, Sinaloa, although there is no evidence to suggest the events were related.

Cano, 24, was reportedly celebrating Father’s Day with his family when assassins armed with AK-47s pulled up in three vehicles and opened fire. Two other guests were killed and a third was seriously injured.

Named by Forbes magazine as the 55th most powerful person on earth, El Chapo is a modern-day Pablo Escobar. He has a seven-million-dollar bounty on his head and assumed the mantle of the world’s most wanted criminal after the death of Osama Bin Laden last year.

Since escaping from the Puente Grande maximum-security prison just outside Guadalajara in 2001 – legend has it he was wheeled out in a laundry cart – El Chapo has narrowly avoided recapture on several occasions, most recently slipping out of a mansion in Los Cabos in February just minutes before it was raided.

With the presidential election looming, there has been speculation in Mexico that the government would spring a late surprise, capturing El Chapo in hope of a dramatic boost in the polls. But there is no evidence to support such rumors and the arrest of his son is highly unlikely to have any effect on how Mexicans vote.

Recent arrests in Jalisco have also discredited conspiracy theories that President Felipe Calderon has been protecting the Sinaloa Cartel, while going after their fiercest rivals, Los Zetas.

In July 2010, Igancio “Nacho” Coronel Villareal, who ran the Sinaloa Cartel’s activities in Jalisco, was killed during a shoot-out with the Mexican Army in a raid on his Zapopan home.

In March 2012,  federal police arrested Coronel’s close ally, Erick Valencia Salazar. Kingpin of the Cartel Jalisco Nueva Generacion allied to the Sinaloa Cartel, Valencia was captured in a raid on his home, also in Zapopan, an action which prompted the burning of dozens of buses across Guadalajara in retaliation.

Then in April, Victor Emilio Cazares, one of Guzman’s top lieutenants, was arrested at a military checkpoint just outside Guadalajara, following a tip-off from U.S. federal agents.

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